Regina Carter. A Life Journey in Music

November 14, 2015

imagesRegina Carter may be the most popular jazz violinist playing today, having recently won the 2015 Downbeat Reader’s Poll for violinist. As a youngster, Carter played in the youth division of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and took master classes from both Itzhak Perlman and Yehudi Menuhin. Carter moved to New York City in 1991 as a relative unknown, and got work accompanying such artists as Aretha Frankly, Mary J. Blige, Billy Joel, and Dolly Parton. She played with Max Roach and Oliver Lake and toured with Wynton Marsalis in his Blood on the Fields tour. In 1995 she released her first album as a leader, and since then has released eight more, including one with pianist Kenny Barron.

Paganini's Violin

Paganini’s Violin

In the early part of the new century she was invited to Italy to play a concert using Paganini’s Violin, made in 1743 and bequeathed to the city of Genoa. Carter was the first jazz musician and the first African American to play the instrument. Afterwards, she released an album of classical music entitled Paganini: After a Dream. In 2006 Carter was awarded a MacArthur Fellows Program grant, which is often called a “genius grant.” The awarding committee noted her mastery of improvisation, and her wide range of musical influences. Carter has released a series of albums that reflect her journey in life: Motor City Moments, an homage to her hometown; I’ll Be Seeing You, a tribute to her mother; and Reverse Thread, a collection of modern and traditional songs of Africa.

Her latest release is Southern Comfort, which explores the music of her grandparent’s South. Her grandfather was a coal miner in Alabama, and she takes on music from the coal-mining world of the Appalachia’s, which she discovered through research at the Library of Congress. There she searched the field recordings of renowned folklorists such as Alan Lomax and John Work II. The album includes tunes such as Honky-Tonkin’ by Hank Williams, and traditional songs such as See See Rider and Miner’s Child. While researching her personal history, she did some DNA testing and discovered that she is part Finnish, which will undoubtedly provide her with more potential material.

I was able to talk with her in January of 2015, when we were both on The Jazz Cruise. The following is a slightly edited version of that talk.

LE: As I understand it, violin was not your first instrument. How did you go from piano to violin?

RC: Well, piano was accident. I had two older brothers and they were both playing piano. The oldest played piano and trumpet and the next oldest one piano and clarinet. They said that one day I walked up to the piano and started playing one of the pieces my brother had been practicing. The teacher was there and said “How does she know that? Who taught her?” They were shocked and said they didn’t know I could play. So she tested me and found out I had a gift to hear music. So my mom enrolled me in piano lessons. But… I like to create, so I never learned my lessons. I’d go in and say “Here’s a tune I wrote.”

LE: How old were you at the time?

RC: Two (chuckling)

LE: Oh my goodness

RC: So my teacher said, “Let’s take her out of lessons. Let her create her own, I don’t want to kill her creativity. When she gets older, maybe I can come back.” Then when I was four Suzuki (method of teaching) was offered for the first time. She called my mother and said told her to enroll me in Suzuki violin because they teach by way of hearing first. She thought it would be great for me. I fell in love with violin, the whole method, and here I am today (laughing) a hundred years later.

LE: You learned classical music first. How did you go from European classical music to jazz?

Carter's homage to her home town of Detroit

Carter’s homage to her home town of Detroit

RC: In high school, my best friend Carla Cook, who’s a wonderful singer, and I met in ninth grade, and we sat next to each other in Spanish class. She’d come to school and talk about Eddie Jefferson and Miles. She was a big Eddie Jefferson fan. I had no clue about who any of these people were. So she’d bring records of Stephane Grapelli, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Noel Pointer, and that was my first introduction to this other music, other than European classical music.

LE: As played on violin

RC: Yes, and I was thinking, “Wow, you can do this on violin? Well count me in.” (more laughing)

LE: At the show last night you mentioned Stuff Smith (a pioneer of jazz violin). Are there artists before Stuff Smith that you learned about?

RC: Well yeah. When I was doing research there was Papa John Creach, even out of the South there were a lot of slaves playing the fiddle for entertainment. Even doing the research for my latest record, Southern Comfort, I was learning about those artists. It’s just been part of the music, the evolution.

LE: Once you started to play jazz, was there anything different about technique, or the way you thought about music, from the European classical approach?

RC: Every genre of music is like learning the slang of your own language for a different language. If you want to fit in, you have to learn that slang. So I just had to learn the slang. I’m still trying to learn it. It’s a little bit different vocabulary, and the way you approach it, so I had to really listen and try to learn the way they pronounced words and the pattern of how they said it. So I approached it just the way I learn a language.

LE: The albums that you’ve put out have all been somewhat thematic: one with your Mom’s favorite songs; one for your hometown of Detroit; one for Africa. Now you have Southern Comfort. Is there a particular reason you take that approach?

I'll Be Seeing You is filled with some of her Mom's favorite songs

I’ll Be Seeing You is filled with some of her Mom’s favorite songs

RC: In the beginning, when I was signed to a label, I wrote most of the music for the first album and most of the second. That was on Atlantic, and when I signed to Verve, my A&R guy said, “No, we don’t like your original music. It sounds too much like the music that was on Atlantic.” They thought that theme records gave the publicity department something to work with. Then, I took about a year or so off, after I got the MacArthur grant. My mother died right before that, so I had a lot of life changes, and asked myself, “What do I want to put out? What do I want to say?” So I guess the theme records are my journey, trying to figure out who am I? Why do I play? What am I doing here? Because, I think we all have a purpose here.

LE: You mentioned the MacArthur grant. What did that allow you to do? It has no strings to it, as I understand.

RC: That was really hard to accept at the beginning. (laughing) I though what? No one ever just gives you anything. In the beginning it gave me time off to maybe mourn and to figure out what is it that I really want to do, without anyone telling me what I really have to do. That’s really powerful. And… I think that’s when the search really started, so that’s what my music, and my records, look like now. I’m finding out (the answers).

NOTE: This is one of the songs on Southern Comfort

LE: On Southern Comfort, you looked back at some of the music your grandfather heard, was there anything that was particularly surprising that you discovered?

Southern Comfort, Carter's latest release.

Southern Comfort, Carter’s latest release.

RC: What I discovered was that some of this music I thought I had heard, maybe it was something form my grandmother. I didn’t know my grandfather. He died before I was born. So I when I went back to (my grandmother’s) house with my grandmother and all of her sisters, and we’d just be thrown in a bed with a bunch of our cousins. No bathroom, just an outhouse. So it’s a really different way of living. Someone, not necessarily my mother or grandmother, would rock me to sleep at night, and they’d sing these songs. So some of these things I’d hear, and I’d think, I know that. But then we’d travel and go to Europe and people would say, we know that song. All kinds of cultures came (to the United States) and migrated to the South. That’s what make up the Appalachia sound.

LE: Now are you moving on to another project?

RC: I’m trying to dig in deep now with this Finnish part, to see if I’m really Finnish. If I am, then I want to check out that part of my family.

LE: There’s some pretty amazing Finnish music. Lots of fiddle music.

RC: Oh I know, I know (laughs)

LE: Well, thank you so much for your time.

RC: Thank you.

 

 

Advertisements

Veteran and Emerging Artists: 4.26 – 5.2

April 26, 2017

At Twelve – Lizzie Wortham’s winning poster for the Saint Paul Art Crawl

Well, it’s Art Crawl Weekend in Saint Paul, and if you take part in any of it, you are bound to see dance, music, and spoken word performances at a number of the Art Crawl sites throughout town. For more info, go here. Of course, there are plenty of other chances to see and hear live music, some of which I’ve listed below. We have a number of visiting artists in both jazz and roots n’ blues, as well as performances from highly talented resident artists, some of whom are national stars in their own right. Regular readers will note that I’ve added a new feature, Early Alert, to highlight performances from the next week’s Wednesday and Thursday that require reservations. BTW, you can find addresses for most of these venues, as well as see videos of many of these artists by going to www.rhythmandgrooves.net.

Jazz

Wednesday, April 26

Connie Evingson and Jon Webber @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley, 7pm ($20, $45 w/Dinner) Vocalist Evingson and pianist Webber will be celebrating the music of Ella Fitzgerald, since this week marks the 100th Anniversary of Fitzgerald’s birth. Saxophonist Dave Karr and bassist Gordy Johnson will be on hand as well. Here she is with a larger group.

The Jazz Image Through the Decades @ The Black Dog Cafe, Saint Paul. 7pm (No Cover) Here’s an intriguing event for fans of the late broadcaster. The Leigh Kammen Legacy Project  helmed by Brad Bellows, has a vast archive of interviews Kammen conducted during more than 70 years in broadcasting. Once a month, Bellows brings out some of those interviews, along with associated recordings, and airs them at the Black Dog. Tonight, he’ll have Kammen’s interviews with a number of female artists, including such legends as Carmen McCrae, Abbey Lincoln, Dinah Washington, Betty Carter, and others. You can once again enjoy the sound of Kammen’s voice, while gaining some insight into the lives and musical philosophies of these artists.

Gary La Rue & His Rat Pack Band @ Mancini’s, Saint Pul. 7:30pm (No Cover) With its red booths and a dance floor, Mancini’s is a throwback to lounges of the 60s, making it a great place to hear LaRue and his Rat Pack Band do invoke Las Vegas with songs by Sinatra, Dean Martin, and their cronies.

Wednesday, Thursday, April 26, 27

Sisters of Swing: The Story of the Andrew Sisters @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25, $30) The Dakota is partnering with the History Theater to present the story of LaVerne, Maxene, and Patty, from Mound MN. The Andrew Sisters were the most popular female singing group of the first half of the 20th Century. It’s a production that’s been performed in over 30 cities around the country and the world.

Thursday, April 27

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Michael O’Brien Quartet. O’Brien is a Minnesota native who moved to the Big Apple some years back and has been playing and touring regularly ever since. The stand-up bassist is back visiting and is joined by Zacc Harris, guitar; Steve Kenny Flumpet; Greg Schute, drums. Here is O’Brien in a duo setting.

Matthew Rahaim and Jon Lion @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Here’s a very intriguing performance at a place that specializes in adventurous music. Rahaim is an associate professor of musicology and ethnomusicology at the U of MN, and is a vocalist who has been performing Hindustani music in both India and North America since 2000, though he also plays a few instruments and other kinds of singing. Jon Lion is a guitarist who has played the Kyber Pass many times, in a variety of configurations.

Huge If True @ Dayblock Brewing, 1103 Washington Avenue So, Minneapolis. 8pm (No Cover) Washington Avenue’s Dayblock Tap Room features jazz once a month. I’m unfamiliar with the players, so I believe this is a chance to hear a relatively new band in town: Michelle Mastrianni, Lead Vocals; Robert Hest, Keys; Rob Higgins, Bass/Vocals; Jack Sloan, Guitar; Elliott Bonner, Sax/Vocals; and Brice DeGrand, Drums.

Friday, April 28

Arne Fogel @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm (No Cover) Fogel is a vocalist who is equally adept at performing the songs of Der Bingle and Ol Blue Eyes and the Great American Songbook. Hell’s Kitchen is a busy, and often noisy place, so you may want reservations if you want to be close to the stage or, you can sit at the bar.

Southside Aces @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) The Aces are back at the Vieux for a Friday night of traditional New Orleans jazz and brass band music. With a diverse repertoire that includes Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Bix Beiderbecke, and originals, they are a party band that will leave dancers sweaty and the rest of the audience uplifted. Here they are at the Eagles Club, another venue where they’re regulars.

Saturday, April 29

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Curator/producer Steve Kenny has been putting together this weekly series for over 140 perform ances thus far. He usually has a relatively new, or young band open, and then a veteran group at 8:30. Tonight, the Brian Handeland Quartet begins at 7pm with: Handeland, sax; Park Evans, guitar; Graydon Peterson, bass; and Trevor Haining, drums. At 8:30, it’s the A-list members of Bottomless Pit, with: Joel Shapira, guitar; Pete Whitman, saxes; Tom Lewis, bass; and Eric Kamau Gravatt, drums

Bill Charlap Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25, $30), 9pm ($20, $25) Charlap is one of the finest pianists of our time, with the ability to swing, and an imaginative approach that gets to the nub of a song. He’s recorded albums featuring the music of Hoagy Carmichael, Leonard Bernstein, and George Gershwin, and has produced several concerts for Jazz at Lincoln Center, and an evening of George Gershwin’s music at the Hollywood Bowl. He and Tony Bennett received a Grammy for their 2015 release, The Silver Lining: The songs of Jerome Kern. His fine trio, which has been together for about 20 years, includes Peter Washington on bass, and the unrelated Kenny Washington on drums.

Sunday, April 30

Bruce Henry: Stevie Wonder Unplugged @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15, $40w/Dinner) Bruce Henry is the kind of singer who can tackle a Freddie Hubbard or John Coltrane tune and turn around and deliver some exquisite R&B. Tonight he’ll treat us to the songs of Stevie Wonder, which lately have been receiving deserved attention from jazz artists. He’ll be accompanied by Sean Turner, piano; Jeff Bailey, bass; and Kevin Washington, drums.

Monday, May 1

Delfeayo Marsalis @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($25, $50w/Dinner) Marsalis is, of course, a member of the famed New Orleans musical family. He’s a trombonist, educator, producer, and arranger who’s released six CDs, all of which exhibit the warmth and imagination of his playing. Here’s a chance to hear him in the intimate, 80-seat “listening room” at Crooners. He’ll be accompanied by pianist Rick Carlson, bassist Steve Pikal, and drummer Nathan Norman.

Tuesday, May 2

O’Brien, Lomheim, & Epstein @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley, 7pm ($10, $35w/Dinner) If you didn’t catch former Twin Citizen O’Brien playing bass with a quartet this past Thursday (see above), you can catch him in a trio setting with two of the area’s finest musicians: pianist Chris Lomheim and drummer Jay Epstein. It’s a treat.

Early Alert

5.3 Regina Carter @ The Dakota

5.3, 5.4 Randy Brecker @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Roo

For more listings, KBEM provides a calendar of jazz and roots music.   For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz, check out the blogs, Jazz Ink, and Bebopified

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, April 26

Curtis Blake on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Harpmeister Curtis Blake stops by Harold’s House Party along with ace guitarist/drummer Jeremy Johnson, for some swingin’ blues. Tune in, and then head over to the 331 Club, where the two will play from 7-9pm.

Willie Murphy @ The Schooner Tavern, Minneapolis. 7:30pm (Tip Jar) Veteran blues/R&B/rock n’ roller Murphy takes a solo turn at the Schooner, armed with nothing more than a guitar, keyboard, and songs that range from romantic doowop to rockin’ protest numbers. He’s not promising any guests, but you can never tell who may show up.

Thursday, April 27

Mikkel Beckmen & Jeff Ray @ The Dubliner Pub, Saint Paul. 5pm – 7pm (Tip Jar) Percussionist-about-town Beckmen holds down a Thursday residency at the warm, friendly bar on University, bringing in a different guest each week. Today it’s the slide guitar master Jeff Ray, who often brings new life to traditional blues and surprises with bluesified rock covers.

Rena Haus @ Dusty’s, NE Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Singer/songwriter Haus has a sustainable farm in Saint Michael, where she supplies food to local groceries and finds inspiration for original songs. Together with her brother Bob on bass and the under-appreciated guitar virtuoso Ed Petche, she creates highly entertaining performances, whether singing tunes by the Allman Brothers, or humorous originals about relationships, farm animals, or the political and economic climate. If you can’t make it tonight, you can also catch her in the dinner hour atVieux Carré tomorrow, and for brunch at Hell’s Kitchen on Saturday.

Friday, April 28

Richie Furay @ The Dakota, Minneapolis 7pm, 9:30pm ($35, $40) This Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer helped bring country rock into our consciousness as a founding member of Buffalo Springfield, Poco and the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band. Furay then went on to form his own band. He’ll be playing songs from throughout his career, with an opening by his daughter, Jesse Furay Lynch, performing The Songs of Laurel Canyon.

Lowertown Classics @ Lowertown Lofts, 225 Kellogg Blvd East, Saint Paul. 8pm ($10 suggested Donation) It’s Art Crawl weekend in Saint Paul and Lowertown Classics has brought in German guitarist Nora Buschmann as the featured artist this weekend. Buschmann has won numerous competitions, and performed a great number of solo concerts at places like the Frankfurt and Nürnberg opera houses, the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn and NDR-Funkhaus Hannover, and has appeared with a number of orchestras in Germany. She has made radio recordings with the Norddeutscher Rundfunk and the Bayrischer Rundfunk, and is a regular performer at guitar festivals around the world. Buschmann will preceded by the McNally Smith Guitar Quartet, a group of four guitarists with varying backgrounds. Enter through the alley

Slovczech @ The Black Dog Cafe, Saint Paul. 8pm (Tip Jar) Eastern European folk-rock party music, just in case you want to get rejuvenated after touring countless artists studios during Art Crawl.

John Nemeth @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) Nemeth is an ace harmonica player and an award-winning soul/blues vocalist currently based in Memphis, where his music fits in like the proverbial glove. Whether he’s singing the blues, or projecting the emotional release of soul music, fans of either style will find much to admire.

Friday, Saturday, April 28, 29

KFAI Celebration @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) It’s a Listener Appreciation Party and New Antenna Celebration to thank listener members for a pledge drive that helped the “little station that could” retire much of the costs of a new antenna. Friday features Jillian Rae, Boiled in Lead, The yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers and more, while Saturday’s stage will be occupied by Rank Strangers, C. Kostra, The Ronnie Buxtons and others. Both evenings will feature a Super Secret headliner that has yet to be announced.

Saturday, April 29

Saturday Salon: Sambas and Sonatinas @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 3pm ($20) The witty and charming Maria Jette hosts this weekly series that brings chamber music into a relaxed, cabaret style “listening room” where small plates and a full bar will be available during the concert. Today’s program, Sambas and Sonatinas, features music from Russia and the Americas, performed by Clea Galhano, recorder; Tom Rosenberg, cello; and Olg Levin, piano. The program includes selections from Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Felix Mendelssohn, Astor Piazzola, and others.

4th Annual Pickin’ for Autism @ Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul. 7pm ($12 Advance, $15 Door) Three folk and bluegrass bands will be playing to support Lionsgate Academy, a school dedicated to the education of students with autism spectrum disorders. The evening will feature music from Pert Near Pert (members of Pert Near Sandstone), and well as Luke Warm and the Cool Hands, and the Lowland Lakers.

Bossa Soul Trio @ Hennepin Steam Room, Minneapolis. 7pm (No Cover) This weekly show can feature more than a trio, as various musicians are recruited to create Brazilian sounds, including sensuous sambas, Brazilian pop, bossa novas, and Latin Jazz. Both experienced and would-be dancers flock the small dance floor to sway to the bubbling rhythms.

Annie Mack & Joyann Parker @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10) Two of the area’s dynamic blues and R&B singers take to the stage at the tiny, but charming Aster. Both Joyann Parker, who starts at 9pm, and Annie Mack, 10 pm, write and perform compelling originals and gritty covers.

Tuesday, May 2

Joe Ely @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $40) Songwriter/guitarist Ely plays outlaw country music, Americana, and Texas honky tonk . He was a member of the original Flatlanders and Los Super Seven, and sang backup for The Clash, recently winning The Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Opener Jason Eady is a country singer with a direct approach to singing.

The Pines @ Hopkins Center of the Arts, Hopkins. 7pm ($25) Though now based out of the Twin Cities, The Pines’ Benson Ramsey and David Huckfelt share a common musical language rooted in the songs and songwriters of their native Iowa. Each has a distinct voice and an ability to evoke the sparse, rural communities of the Great Plains with cinematic language. The combination of acoustic instruments, rich warm vocals, and an eye (and ear) for detail has helped them gain fans around the country. A social hour begins at 6pm, with the concert beginning at 7pm.

Early Alert

5.3 Kinky Friedman @ The Turf Club

5.4 Edgar Winter @ The Dakota

 

For a more comprehensive listing of blues (and some roots) events, see the MN Blues Society calendar. For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar.


Jazz n’ Blues n’ Films, Oh My! Music: 11.11 – 11.17

November 11, 2015
Sound Unseen presents a film about the Beatles arriving in America

Sound Unseen presents a film about the Beatles arriving in America

This week brings a few multi-day events to our fair cities. The Sound Unseen Festival is dedicated to screening films about music and musicians, while Zeitgeists’ New Music Cabaret gathers original musicians from a variety of genres. Add in some visiting musicians of note, both young and old, and our usual mix of talented resident musicians, and we’ve got another week with outstanding music. Remember, Music Lifts the Spirit.

Jazz

Wednesday, November 11

CB Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Bassist about town Chris Bates can be found in a variety of groups, always adding a solid foundation, whether it be the modern jazz of the Atlantis Quartet, or the sonic explorations of the Good Vibes trio. Tonight he explores the piano trio format with the help of Javi Santiago on piano and Cory Healey on drums.

Thursday, November12

Cameron Kinghorn Quartet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Kinghorn is a trumpeter and vocalist who has been featured in a number of bands about town, including the Adam Meckler Orchestra, Nooky Jones, and others. Tonight you can hear him sing withTed Godbout, piano; Andrew Foreman, bass; and Andres Crovetti, drums. Here he is on a slow jam with Nooky Jones.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, November 12, 13, 14

Zeitgeist’s 7th Annual New Music Cabaret @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 6:30 Thurs, 7:30 Fri and Sat ($15/night or $35 for a 3 day pass) The new music ensemble once again brings a variety of artists in a variety of genres to their cozy Lowertown studio. Jazz fans will be especially interested in the music of Steve Kenny’s Wise Quartet of Kenny, Flumpet; Pete Whitman, sax; Jay Young, bass, and Phil Hey, drums; appearing Thursday at 9:30. The Dave Hagedorn Quartet plays Friday at 9:30, with Hagedorn on vibes and Chris Bates, bass; Phil Hey, drums; and Dave Milne, saxes. Trumpeter Solomon Parham takes the stage on Saturday at 7:30, where he’ll be joined by Peter Schimke, piano; Ernest Bisong, violin; Eric Solberg, bass; and Rodney Rocques, drums. There are other interesting performances as well, by the Marimba Bullies, Gao Hong on the Highway, Alyssa Anderson & Jeffrey Kyle Hutchins, and of course, Zeitgeist will perform each night. Here’s Solomon Parham, soloing on a number with Eric Gravatt.

Friday, November 13

Friday Night Jazz @ The Nicollet Cafe, Minneapolis. 7pm (Tip Jar) Things get started with the JazzINK Youth Showcase featuring the highly talented Jordan Anderson Quartet: Anderson, piano; Gerhardt Robinson, reeds; Alma Engebretson, bass; and Simon Petrick, drums. At 8:30, Rare Medium takes the stage to showcase their engaging fusion of jazz and funk: Jaim Zuber, guitar; Aaron McCabe, trumpet; Joan Hutton Sax; Ryan Johnson, drums; and Joshua Stallings, bass. Here’s a clip of Rare Medium.

Eric Kamau Gravatt & Source Code @ Walker West Music Academy, 760 Selby Avenue, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($15) Gravatt  s a powerhouse drummer with a well-deserved national reputation, especially know for his work with McCoy Tyner and with Weather Report, though he’s also played with  Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, and Blue Mitchell, among others. He’ll be joined by stellar players: Chris Thomson, sax; Ron Evaniuk, bass; Dean Magraw, guitar; and Solomon Parham, trumpet.

Charlie Christensen Five @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Though Christenson is a vocalist and keyboard player, his music is much more suited to the experimentation of Friday Nights at JC, rather than vocalist Thursdays. The Jazz Central site says tonight’s performance will blow your mind. Chjristenson studied at Lawrence University and received a Masters in Music Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. He currently heads up the Vocal department at MacNally Smith. Tonight he’s joined by another Lawrence alum, Adam Meckler, on trumpet, as well as  Matt Edlund, drums; Katie Marshall guitar, vocals; and Patrick Horigan, guitar.

Atlantis Quartet @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) This quartet  of Zacc Harris, guitar; Brandon Wozniak, sax; Chris Bates, bass; and Peter Hennig, drums has become the prime example of modern jazz in the Twin Cities. Though the’ve received national praise for their 21st Century jazz, they are well aware of jazz classics, having performed their both A Love Supreme and Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters in their entirety. Tonight they return to a room they played many times when it was the AQ. They even recorded their 2011 CD Lines in the Sand there. Here’s a snippet of them from a couple of years ago.

Saturday, November 14

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) It seems to be MacNally Smith night at the Dog. The opening act tonight is Tempestad,duo of Maria Vejdani and guitarist Tomas Simpson, who began playing together while attending MacNally Smith. Vejdani is classically trained, and currently has a Teaching Assistantship at the school, where she is studying for her Masters, and has branched out into jazz, R&B, work music and more. The Gerard Ahlgren Quintet is up at 8:30, led by trumpeter Ahlgren (also on the staff at MacNally) and featuring Lucia Armiento, tenor; Kelly Blau, guitar; Ry Dill bass; and Lars Johnson, drums.  Here is Tempested.

Nachito Herrera @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($15) The Cuban powerhouse pianist returns to his regular haunt to heat up the place with his playing. He’ll be playing Cuban classics, but has been known to throw in some Earth Wind & Fire as well as some classical music to the mix.

UnknownMiss Myra & the Moonshiners @ Dakota Late Night, Minneapolis. 11:30pm ($5) Vintage jazz and barrelhouse blues, delivered with a bit of risqué sass. Miss Myra is a guitarist who has studied with both Papa John Kolstad and Dean Harrington. The Moonshiners include Zane Fitzgerald Palmer on lead guitar (Papa John Kolstad, & Cadillac Kolstad); as well as Sam Skavnak, clarinet; Angie Frisk, drums; and Ike Heath, tuba.

Monday, November 16

Regina Carter @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40), 9pm ($30) Violinist Carter is a wonder. She was the first jazz musician and first African American to be invited to play Paganinin’s violin, made in 1743 and bequeathed to the city of Genoa, Italy. She was also awarded a MacArthur Fellows Program grant, also known as a “genius grant” in 2006, which has allowed her to research and record the roots of her music, from her mom’s favorite jazz tunes to African music, to the folk music of the South, featured in her latest release, Southern Comfort. On Saturday, the 14th, I’ll be playing an interview with her on Rhythm and Grooves. Tune in at 10:30am to hear the show and the interview, along with a couple of songs from Southern Comfort.  Here she is doing a classic folk/blues.

Tuesday, November 17

Adam Meckler Orchestra @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 8pm ($10) Since they don’t play that often, I almost always list this big band (17 pieces). Trumpeter/leader Meckler is an excellent composer and arranger, and he’s gathered quite a few young lions, as well as some veteran players, for the group.  Here’s an example.

Tommy O’Donnell Trio @ Crooners Lounge and Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No cover) The veteran pianist teams up with the dynamic duo of Gordy Johnson, bass, and Phil Hey, drums. Another outstanding piano trio. Though the image is dark, you can get a good idea of O’Donnell’s playing in this video with Gordy Johnson.

For a comprehensive listing of Jazz go to the Twin Cities Live Jazz Calendar. KBEM provides a calendar of jazz and roots music.   For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz, check out the blogs, Jazz PoliceJazz Ink, and Bebopified.

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, November 11

Eilen Jewell @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($23) Call it alt-country, Americana, rockabilly, or folk. It’s rhythmic, tight, and enchanting, as Jewell’s slightly smoky vocals propel a road-tested band. She’s become a first rate songwriter, and has delighted in past performances at the Dakota.

Wednesday – Sunday, November 11 – 15

Sound Unseen Festival @ Various Venues. There is too much in this multi-day event to go into much detail. Suffice it to say the opening night film is Mavis!, about Mavis Staples, and there are films about The Beatles’ arrival in America, Laurie Anderson, Mongoliasn rock, the Carter/Cash families, Deejay AM, an homage to Purple Rain and The Harder They Come set among the Sub-Saharan Tuaregs, and a screening of Gimme Shelter, among others. More information, including venues, times, and prices, can be found at: http://www.soundunseen.com Here’s a clip from Mavis!

Thursday, November 12

David Bromberg @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30 – $40) Jerry Jeff Walker calls him “The reason man created stringed instruments.” With his wry wit and expert technique, Bromberg has been entertaining folk with a combination of blues, bluegrass, gospel, folk, drinking songs, and fiddle tunes. His recording sidemen have included George Harrison, members of the Grateful Dead, and more recently, Levon Helm, Vince Gill, Dr. John and a host of others. Past shows have sold out, so be forewarned. Check out his version of a Dylan classic.

Radio Joe & the Jazzbo’s @ Crooners Lounge and Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No cover) Get out your dancing shoes, get spiffed up, and take your honey out for an evening of dancing to some easy swing, foxtrots, and the occasional jump tune. During the last year or so, guitarist Joe Demko (Radio Joe) and the Jazzbos have been entertaining dancers at the Eagles Club on a regular basis. They’ve also recorded many of their shows and have assembled a fine CD entitled Live!. It’s chock full of romance, with songs like I’m in the Mood for LoveLet’s Get Lost, and Unforgettable. It also features some Demko originals which comfortably fit right alongside those standards. The Jazzbos include: Bruce Wintervold, vibes; Keith Boyles, bass; and Tony Guscetti, drums. Joe appeared on Rhythm and Grooves this past Saturday, which you can listen to on the here.

Saturday, November 14

Eric Burdon @ The Medina Entertainment Center, Hamel. 7:30pm ($37 – $58) Can it really be 50 years since the sound of Eric Burdon and the Animals exploded from the radio as part of the British Invasion? Their songs such as It’s My Life, and Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood expressed teenage angst with fury. Burdon went to sing with the very early version of War, getting a hit with Spill the Wine. He went solo in 1971 and continues to record and tour. Recent videos reveal that though his hair math be gray, he still has a strong voice, as heard in this video from a few years back.

The Eddies @ The Dubliner, Saint Paul. 7:30pm – 10:30pm (No Cover) Three hours of enchanting songs about death, the sea, drinking and work, performed by the “almost acapella” quintet in a venue that could only be more fitting if it were in Dublin.

Joyann and colleagues

Joyann and colleagues

Sweet Tea @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm ($8) Blues goes down well at the Vieux, and The Sweet Tea Band delivers in spades, thanks to the powerful vocals of Joyann Parker, who can easily sell songs associate with Etta James, Patsy Cline or Janis Joplin. The band has been growing its fan base by steadily gigging around town and the Midwest, and in January will be representing Minnesota at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

Saturday, November 14, Sunday, November 15

B3 Blues, Feat. Yolanda Bruce and Julius Collins @ The Capri Theater, Minneapolis. 7pm Sat, 3pm Sun. ($25) The music of BB King, Bobby Blue Bland, and Brook Benton, (as well as others) sung by two terrific vocalists, and backed by a Hammond B3 organist.

Sunday, November 15

He's blue and has to express himself

He’s blue and has to express himself

Blues for Kids @ The Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 1pm – 5pm ($10 Suggested Donation) This is a benefit for Blues Studio for School, a program developed by Joey Filipovich of the MN Blues Society. The program is a six-week workshop that will start with pilot programs at East Ridge High School and Woodbury High. There will be performances by The Blue Cities, Squishy Mud, Armadillo Jump, and Sweet Tea.

Paula Cole @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35 – $42) Singer/songwriter Cole toured with Peter Gabriel in ’94, performing the primary female vocals and being featured in duets. She has released seven albums in the years since, winning a Grammy as Best New Artist in 1998. She has a strong, solid voice, a deft hand at writing, and has had a number of songs on the charts.

Monday, November 16

UnknownSalsa del Soul @ Union Depot, Saint Paul. 6:15pm – 9pm (Free) The evening begins with a 45 minute dance lesson for those who aren’t familiar with Latin dances, and then the 9-piece Salsa del Soul will play music for dancing in the spacious waiting room of the Depot. Band members include both Dave Graf and Scott Agster on trombone, as well as David Martin on bass, and Shai Hayo on timbales, so you know things will be cooking.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues (and some roots) events, see the MN Blues Society calendar. For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar.


Back in the Saddle: 6.14 – 6.20

June 14, 2017

Taken on a different vacation by Andrea Hjelm. The first time on horseback in 30 years.

Well, I’m back in the saddle again, so to speak, after a brief interruption in posting when my vacation was involuntarily extended. All is good, and I’m looking forward to a week of great music from both visiting and resident artists. This Sunday is Father’s Day and that means that the Stone Arch Festival will be taking place all weekend. Besides booths of art, crafts, and food, there are plenty of artists performing, in genres ranging from classic rock and punk, to Americana and C&W, to even a bit of jazz, but I have to admit I know only a few. A schedule of performers can be found here. Have a great week. Remember music lifts the spirit.

Jazz

Wednesday, June 14

Candy Dulfer @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $40, $45), 9pm ($30, $35, $40) This Dutch saxophonist has played with Maceo Parker, Aretha Franklin, Lionel Richie, mavis Staples, Beyonce, Van Morrison and more, and has been name-checked by Prince. She’s had several number 1 hits in the US, and is a big draw at festivals around the world.

Gary LaRue & the Rat Pack Band @ Mancini’s, Saint Paul. 7:30pm (No Cover) If ever there was a great spot to hear the music of Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, and other swinging cats from the 50s, it’s the lounge at Mancini’s.

Thursday, June 15

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Tonight it’s the Wayne Horvitz Group: Horvitz, keys; Josh Granowski, bass; Davu Seru, drums, a combination of musicians who celebrate adventurous music making.

Lucia Newell & The Wolverines Trio @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) Newell is a wonderful singer who is conversant in all manner of jazz and Brazilian music (she spent two years singing there). She only plays selected dates each year, so this is a perfect opportunity to hear her, especially since she’ll be backed by the swinging Wolverines Trio. Here she is in her Brazilian mode.

Friday, June 16

Adam Booker @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Bassist Booker put out a fine recording, Unraveled Rival, on Shifting Paradigm records in 2015.  He has an extensive history with Duluth groups such as The New Orleans Hot Club, the Jazz Pharaohs, the Asylum Street Spankers, and others. This is his last Twin Cities appearance. After teaching at UMN- Duluth for many years, he heading to Appalachian State University where he’ll be Assistant Professor of Double Bass at the Hayes School of Music. Joining him are Levi Schwarzberg, vibes; and Ben Baldwin, drums.

Kevin Washington Quintet @ Rice Park, Saint Paul. 6pm (Free) Drummer Washington is a master of rhythms, whether playing with Nachito Herrera, Viva Brazil or any of a number of jazz luminaries, such as Anthony Cox, Roscoe Mitchell, James Carter, Fred Wesley or the David Murray Big Band. He’ll undoubtedly have some Twin Cities luminaries in his quintet. Pippi Ardennia and the PipJazz All Stars open this summertime outdoor event.

Saturday, June 17

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) As is often the case, the evening starts with a young group. Drummer Simon Petrick, who is a member of this year’s Dakota Combo will be leading a group at 7pm. Then at 8:30pm it’s How Birds Work, a quartet started during the heyday of the Artists’ Quarter and featuring Dean Granros, guitar; Peter Schimke, keyboards, Chris Bates, bass, and Kenny Horst, drums. They play high-quality, demanding jazz from the likes of Coltrane, Shorter, Hancock, and more.

Joel Shapira CD Release @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6:30pm (No Cover) Guitarist Shapira has had an every other week solo early gig at the Vieux for almost two years now, and has developed a bit of a following there, members of whom have asked for a solo CD. Well, he’s delivered. The CD, In Essence, contains some gems from the Great American Songbook as well as modern jazz classics by Coltrane, Miles, and Monk, including his third recording of Bemsha Swing. In a recent interview with Tom Surowicz for the Highland Villager, Shapira said, “It’s a challenge, reducing piano music to the guitar.” Shapira is more than up to it.

Sunday, June 18

Nancy Harms @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($20, 425; $40, $50 Dinner Show) Though not exposed to jazz until she attended college, Ms Harms, a Clara City, MN native performs as if born to the role of jazz singer. She has an innate sense of time and phrasing and an ability to imbue songs with just the right amount of humanity to fully tell each song’s story. She is a uniquely gifted performer who has established herself in NYC and Europe. Her shows here in town are always well-attended, if not sold out, so be forewarned that the Dunsmore Room only seats 80.

Regina Marie Williams @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm )$17 – $22) You may have seen Williams in any number of roles at the Guthrie, Penumbra, Park Square, and Mixed Blood theaters. She’s a fine actress – she’s won an Ivey Award, was named City Pages Best Actress of 2016, and received the McKnight Theater Artist Award. She is also a great songstress, who can whisper as well as soar, as attested by roles where she’s played Dinah Washington and Nina Simone.

Monday, June 19

Jane Bunnett & Maqueque @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30, $35) Canadian saxophonist Jane Bunnett has been nominated twice for a Grammy and received a number of Canada’s music awards. She went to Cuba back in 1982 and fell in love with the sensual, yet intricate rhythms of the island. She’d often use them with her contemporary jazz performances, and recently assembled an all-star cast of female Cuban musicians to form Maqueque. Their second album, Odara, was released last fall.

Adam Astrup @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm (!0, $5 w/Student ID)Though newly graduated from high school, guitarist Astrup as been impressing audiences in various groups for a couple of years now, including the Dakota Combo and two or three groups of his own. Tonight he and members of his quintet will be playing originals. Members include: Nick Benish, bass; Andrew Tomten, Sax; Patrick Adkins, keys; and Simon Petrick, drums. Here he is in a trio setting.

JT’s Jazz Implosion @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm. ($8) This long running weekly event, curated by drummer JT Bates, always features forward thinking artists, whether from the Twin Cities or beyond. Tonight features The Jon Davis Quartet for set one: Davis, bass & woodwinds; Chuck Love trumpet, flute, melodica, & percussion, Bryan Nichols, keys; and Greg Schutte, drums. Performing set two is The George Marich Trio; Marich, drums, George Cartwright, saxes; and Josh Granowski, bass.

Tuesday, June 20

Jordan Anderson Group @ Walker West, Saint Paul. 7:30pm (free) This dazzling young pianist was a member of the Dakota Combo prior to attending the University of Michigan, where he was recruited by, and studies with, none other than Benny Green. I believe he’ll have talented contemporaries with him: Peter Goggin, saxophone; Charlie Lincoln, bass; and Edmund Catlin, drums. Here he is while still a HS student, with a different group

For more listings, KBEM provides a calendar of jazz and roots music.   For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz, check out the blogs, Jazz Ink, and Bebopified.

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, June 14

Crankshaft & the Gear Grinders @ Como Park Conservatory, Saint Paul. 6pm (Free) Pack up a picnic and head out the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory to  boogie down to the amped up blues, country, and roots music from the guitarist/songwriter who’s the pride of Anoka  Plus there’s a climbing wall, bouncy tent and other distractions for the wee ones.

The Dollys on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) The Dollys are Joanna Jahn, Kari Shaw, and Megan Shaw, or are all enamored of the three-part harmonies of EmmyLou Harris, Dolly Parton, and Linda Ronstadt. They also perform songs by other female country artists as well as their own versions of folk and Americana hits. Tune in to Harold’s House Party at 5pm, and if you like what you hear, head over to the 331 Club to see them in person.

Butch Thompson & Pat Donahue @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15; $40 for Dinner Show) A creative pairing of legendary, excellent musicians. Pianist Thompson and Fingerstyle Guitarist Donahue mine classic blues and jazz, that is from the 20s and 30s, with an occasional original that fits the style. The Dunsmore Room provides a quiet, intimate space to fully appreciate their musicianship, craftsmanship, and easy-going banter. Here’s a track from the album the duo made, featuring Thompson on clarinet.

Robert Earl Keen @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($40 Advance, $45 Door) Regular listeners of Jackson Buck’s Freewheelin’ show know that every Christmas he plays Keen’s Merry Christmas from the Family, a description of a blended family at Christmas time. No matter what your background, this tale of a family gathering will include something that’s funny and familiar. It’s a perfect example of his wit and powers of observation, as his his take on modern life called Wireless in Heaven. He’s been writing songs for over three decades and continues to sharpen his wit and entertain folk, and was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012, while a couple of years ago he became the first recipient of BMI’s Troubadour Award. Keen takes a few minutes to introduce the band before singing on this video.

Thursday, June 15

Doug Little’s Seven Steps to Havana @ Arlington Hills Library, Saint Paul. 7pm – 8:30pm (Free) This septet led by flutist/saxophonist Doug Little features musicians from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Ethiopia, and the US. Their hip-swaying music uses the fiery rhythms of salsa and the rich harmonies of jazz.

Mikkel Beckmen w/Martin Devaney @ The Dubliner Pub, Saint Paul. 5pm – 7pm (Tip Jar) Percussionist Mikkel Beckmen’s weekly residency is always a great place to stop after work and down a pint in a friendly setting while Beckmen invites guests to share the stage. This week he has Martin Devaney, hard working guitarist and prolific songwriter working on his seventh full length album. Here’s Devaney.

Steve Clarke Quartet w/Patty Peterson @ Seven Steak House, Minneapolis. 7pm (No cover?) It seems that Seven Steak House at 7th & Hennepin has new management, and has decided to bring in music on Thursdays. Tonight Steve Clarke brings his swinging saxophone to the venue, along with guest vocalist Patty Peterson, who is equally at home in jazz and R&B. Not sure if you have to order a meal or can hang at the bar, so you may want to call to get particulars.

Friday, June 16

Garland Jeffreys @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30, $35) Brooklyn native Jeffreys has been creating urban rock since the 60s, first hitting with Wild in the Streets back in the 70s. His songs have been covered by punkers and neo-folkies, and he’s worked with folks ranging from John Cale, Lou Reed, U2,  and Dr. John to Stan Getz and Sonmny Rollins. Jeffrey’s latest two albums, The King of In Between from 2011, and Truth Serum in 2013 received great reviews and his latest, the newly-released 14 Steps to Harlem, is sure to bring him new fans, at least based on the three songs I’ve heard.

Celtic Rock Night @ Celtic Junction, Saint Paul. 8pm ($12 Advance, $15 Door) These days Celtic music is more than fiddles and whistles, and tonight in an event sponsored by the MN Music Coalition, will certainly prove that out. Performing are The Sweet Colleens, a quintet of multi-instrumentalists playing high-energy fiddle and accordion-driven Celtic Americana who just released their 5th album; Belfast-born Leslie Rich a guitarist singer who has played with The Hounds of Finn and Leslie Rich & the Rocket Soul Choir since emigrating to the US, and The Tim Malloys, who fuse traditional Irish music with pub rock and the sensibility (and sound) of Minneapolis punk rock.

Lowland Lakers @ The Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 8pm ($7 Advance, $10 Door) It’s a seated show of Americana as this trio, with roots in Duluth, play their last gig with Dr. Matt Donoghue on bass – he’s taking a position as Emergency Medicine Resident. Opening is the talented Rachel Hanson, who’s a north country artist herself. Then the Last Jackson will close out the evening.

Paul Cebar @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($12) Milwaukee native Paul Cebar has been at this songwriting/singing/playing thing for decades, always finding ways to incorporate irresistible rhythms into his songs that provide a modern touch to old R&B ideas. For instance, you’ll be dancing along to something funky, when all of a sudden there’s a calypso break. No wonder legions of dancers come out for every performance.

Malamanya @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11pm ($10 advance, $15 Door) Late night salsa dancing to this Twin Cities band that with the bona fides to perform classic Cuban music.

Saturday, June 17

Class Action @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm, 9pm ($25) For three years in the late 70s and early 80s, Class Action was just about the most popular dance band in the Twin Cities. No wonder – look at their talented members: Rockie Robbins, who later had seven charting singles as a solo artist; Patty Peterson, who continues to sparkle as a jazz/R&B singer here in town; Ricky Perterson, the wizard keyboard player who played with David Sanborn for 20 years and countless other artiits; Candy Anderson Cretoekos, who started singing in church, and worked with Wayne Cochran & the CC Riders throughout the nation. She moved to Los Angeles from Minneapolis and returned to her church roots, performing throughout California; Stephen Faison, performer for hundreds of jingles and soundtracks and staff writer for recording studios, who worked withThe Coasters, Drifters, Walter Trout and Aretha Franklin and teaches here in town; Rick Cornish, who performed with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and who had one of his compositions premiered by the LA Philharmonic, and winner of numerous national and international awards; Rick Houle, who played in Passage and the Doug Maynard Band before moving to Seattle in 1984. Since then he’s worked with Ernestine Anderson, and is currently a member of a 12 piece group that plays the music of Steely Dan; finally there Glenn Swanson, who was a staff drummer at Creation Audio, who after Class Action went on to work with Sheila Raye Charles (daughter of Ray), including serving as emcee for a Japanese tour, and more recently produced vocalist Pippi Ardennia. Wow!

International Reggae All Stars @ The Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($??) Here’s a chance for east-siders to hear the reggae sound of the All Stars outside of their weekly gig at Bunkers.

Rena Haus Trio @ Dusty’s, NE Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Dusty’s is tiny, though a more upscale description would say intimate. Nevertheless it provides a great setting as guitarist/songwriter Rena Haus, her bassist brother Bob, and under-appreciated guitarist Ed Petsche will regale you with Rena’s original song stories and great covers of blues songs. Here she is solo.

Monday, June 19

Frankie Lee & Friends @ The Turf Club’s Clown Lounge, Saint Paul. 7pm ($12 Advance, $15 Door) Lee has the June residency for Monday nights at the rec room inspired Clown Lounge. He’s a country/folk singer whose debut album American Dreamer, was released in 2015 on London’s Loose Records. It promptly became well played on Europe’s radio stations, making many “best of” lists from the continent. It was released in America in the summer of 2016, earning him more praise from NPR, among others. Don’t know which friends will show up, but they include Michael Lewis bass, sax; Jeremy Ylvisaker, guitar; and JT Bates, drums, who appeared on his first EP.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues (and some roots) events, see the MN Blues Society calendar. For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar.


Mayday and More: 5.3 – 5.9

May 3, 2017

The Tree of Life Ceremony at Powederhorn Park

It’s May and we have a weekend of Cinco de Mayo Festivals (Saturday on the West Side of Saint Paul and Sunday around 27th and East Lake) as well as the 43rd Annual Mayday Parade and Celebration in South Minneapolis (see below), all of which will feature music and performers. This week’s indoor events don’t necessarily coincide with the festivals, but provide other opportunities for uplifting experiences, with a number of visiting artists coming to town and a plethora of veteran and emerging Twin Cities artists. Music lifts the spirit.

Jazz

Wednesday, May 3

Regina Carter: Simply Ella @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30 – $40), 9pm ($25 – $35) April 25th marked the100th Anniversary of the birth of Ella Fitzgerald, and violinist Regina Carter is releasing an album entitled Ella: Accentuate the Positive. We are lucky enough to be a stop on her tour promoting the album. Carter is among the finest, if not the finest, jazz violinist practicing today. She’s tasteful, melodic, and swinging, whether she’s interpreting folk music of the South, Cajun fiddle music, the songs her mother loved, or something classical. Carter has been the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship (The “Genius Grant”), and numerous awards. You can read an interview I did with her a couple of years ago by going here.

Michael O’Brien @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Bassist O’Brien is in town visiting and he’s brought together some of the best Twin Cities musicians to join him for this gig, which will feature Latin music in addition to O’Brien’s facility on the bass: Pete Whitman, sax; Steven Hobert, piano; and Mac Santiago, drums.

Wednesday, Thursday, May 3, 4

Randy Brecker Quartet @ Crooners’ Dunmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($20 – $30, $60w/Dinner) 9pm ($15, $20) Brecker is a multiple Grammy Award winner, who got his start with the big bands of Clark Terry, Duke Pearson, and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. He was in the original version of Blood Sweat and Tears, leaving them to join the Horace Silver Quintet. Since then, he’s recorded with a wide range of musicians, from Frank Zappa, James Brown, and Parliament/Funkadelic to Steely Dan, Jaco Pastorious, and Frank Sinatra. If you need another reason to see him, consider the fact that his quartet will feature Tanner Taylor on piano, as well as the crack rhythm section of Gordy Johnson and Phil Hey.

Thursday, May 4

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Ruckus Hip Hop Jazz: Drummer Rodney Ruckus may have moved to the West Coast, but he’s got plenty of gigs bringing him back to town. Tonight’s show is a double billing with two drum sets on stage, while Ruckus and LA Buckner lead and co-lead different ensembles that fuse jazz and hip hop.

Joel Shapira/Bryan Nichols Trio @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6pm (Shapira, no cover), 8pm (Nichols, $5) the first of two nights of double jazz at the Vieux. Guitarist Joel Shapira will help you while away a pleasant dinner hour before pianist Bryan Nichols and his trio (Jeff Bailey, bass; JT Bates, drums) entertain you with originals and jazz standards.

Friday, May 5

Jon Pemberton/Debbie Duncan @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6:30pm (Pemberton, no cover), 9pm (Duncan, $12) Jon Pemberton kicks off the dinner hour with his inventive and melodic piano playing, after which vocalist Debbie Duncan will take the stage to deliver her sassy brand of jazz.

Fuzzy Math @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) This quintet  eatures original, if eclectic jazz originals and creative renditions of pop songs. Back in 2012 they were named “the best jazz act for people bored with jazz” by the wags at City Pages. They are, after all, a fun group with the goal of creating “serious music that doesn’t take itself too seriously.” This will be the Jazz Central debut for mark Vandermyde, keys/compositions; Curtis Lucky, trumpet; Scott Fultz, sax; Eric Graham, bass; and Haralds Bondaris, drums.

Saturday, May 6

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Opening tonight are The D’Sievers, with John Sievers, trombone; Remi Moulder guitar; Steve Sawyer, bass; and Garrtett Kolb, drums. At 8:30 or so it’s the powerful Eric Kamau Gravatt & Source Code: Gravatt, drums; Solomon Parham, trumpet; Ron Evaniuk, bass; Dean Magraw, guitar; and Dave Graf, trombone. Here is Gravatt playing with McCoy Tyner and Bill Frisell.

Mama Digdown’s Brass Band @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($15)  Mama Digdown has been around for about twenty years, spreading worldwide joy with the creativity of their streetwise brass band music. You can expect traditional New Orleans tunes like Jocomo, and Gloryland, as well as their own version of pop songs like the Jackson 5’s I Want You Back. Since the Madison, WI based group is sometimes supplemented with Twin Cities musicians, there may be guests during the course of the evening.

Sunday, May 7

Bob DeFlores Films: The Big Bands, 1923 – 1950s @ Chanhassen Dinner Theater, Chanhassen. 3pm ($12) Even if you don’t live in the southern ‘burbs, it’s worth the drive to see films from the collection of Bob DeFlores, whose archive of music shorts and “soundies” encompasses all manner of jazz. Today he presents a rich palette of Big Bands, from Rudy Vallee and the Dorsey Brosters, to Woody Herman, Ozzie Nelson, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Ray Anthony, Artie Shaw, and much, much more.

Dan Chouinard and Lucia Newell @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley, 7pm ($10, $35 w/Dinner) Pianist Chouinard and vocalist Newell get together for a special Birthday Club. Not only will they be celebrating the music of composers born during May, but all revenue will go to Global Rights for Women, an organization working to end violence against women worldwide! Here’s Newell performing a Brazilian song.

Dakota Combo Spring Concert @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7pm ($10) The Dakota Combo is a group of very talented high school students selected each September by open audition to study with bassist Adam Linz for the school year. It’s a program of MacPhail Center for music, supported by the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education. This year’s combo is a quintet: Adam Astrup, guitar; Ivan Cunningham, alto; Riley Swain, baritone; Max Voda, bass; and Simon Petrick, drums. They’ve been hard at it and have already performed at a couple of area schools. It’s safe to say you will likely be blown away by their talent. (Full disclosure: I’m on the board of the Dakota Foundation, which provides the support for this program.)

Monday, May 10

Glenn Zaleski @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15, $40 w/Dinner) Twenty-nine-year old pianist Zaleski has been a first-call sideman in NYC ever since moving there nine years ago. He’s performed and recorded with such stellar performers as Ravi Coltrane and trombonist Michael Dease, among others. He’s featured in the latest issue of DownBeat, where he’s described as someone who is not a traditionalist, but to whom “melody still matters.” The writer goes on to say, “His solos hinge on acute, often linear lines that find their counterweight in subsequent measures, cresting the tension and suspense of a well-wrought story.” This is a solo performance, so you’ve got a chance to see and hear his talent in the comfy, intimate confines of the Dunsmore Room.

Jazz Implosion @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10) It’s an exciting double bill this evening the Levi Schwartzberg Quartet and Barnacle. Schwartzberg’s young group starts the evening: Levi Schwartzberg, vibes; Patrick Adkins, piano; Drew Stinson, bass; and Tarek Abdelqader, on drums. Then, it’s the return of Barnacle, a two guitar group that was around at the turn of the century, featuring guitarists Jason Goessl, now of Seattle, and Jacob Park Evans, backed by Chris Bates, bass; and Greg Schutte drums.

Tuesday, May 9

Chris Lomheim/Sophia Shorai @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6pm (Lomheim, no cover), 8pm (Shorai, $5) Yet another double dose of jazz, with pianist Chris Lomheim supplying airy, melodic improvisation during the dinner hour, and vocalist Shorai singing in her distinctively vulnerable yet sweet voice.

For more listings, KBEM provides a calendar of jazz and roots music.   For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz, check out the blogs, Jazz Ink, and Bebopified.

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, May 3

Gentlemen’s Anti-Temperance League on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) So today, Harold’s House Party features this string quartet (plus vocalist) that specializes in Prohibition-era swing. Tune in at 5pm to hear a sample of their music and go to the 331 for a two hour taste of their tunes. I’d say to bring dancing shoes, but it becomes quite crowded in between the tables of the small club.

Kinky Friedman @ The Turf Club, Saint Paul. 7pm ($30 Advance, $35 Door) Those of you of a certain age may remember Kinky Friedman as a legendary outlaw country singer/songwriter, satirist, novelist, and onetime gubernatorial candidate for Texas. He calls himself the Texas Jewboy, and is currently on the Resurrected Tour, as he calls it, in support of his latest CD, the Loneliest Man I Ever Met. Brian Molnar, of The Naked Hearts, opens. Here’s Kinky, but her aware, he’s not politically correct.

Thursday, May 4

Edgar Winter Band @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45, $65, $75) Since his debut album in 1970, pianist Edgar Winter has always received accolades for his playing, whether it was rock, jazz, blues, or pop. His 1971 album with his horn band White Trash had liner notes by poet/rocker Patti Smith, and enjoyed huge success, as did it’s live follow-up. He then formed the Edgar Winter Group which had the number one Frankenstein, and another chart buster, Free Ride. The album they appeared on, They Only Come Out at Night, peaked at number 3 and was on the charts for 80 weeks. He’s got over 20 albums and collaborative efforts to his credits, and still rocks out as hard as possible.

Paul Thorne @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($30 Advance, $35 Door) Thorne is a former prizefighter, and quite literally, the son of a preacher man which, taken with his Southern upbringing, has given him a unique perspective on life. He’s lived a life that give him plenty of material for songs and often humorous stories, such as I Backslide on Friday, and Mediocrity is King, both of which can be found on his latest album, Too Blessed to Be Stressed.

Swamp Poppas @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($?) While the Poppas can always be depended upon to deliver smart, danceable renditions of songs from New Orleans and South Louisiana, tonight they’re bringing in vocalist Lucinda Plaisance to help deliver some new songs in the repertoire, including Clifton Chenier’s Zydeco Cha Cha, Gene Delafose’s Bou Pon Pon, Irma Thomas’ Ruler of My Heart, Lou Ann Barton’s version of Shake Your Hips, and more.

Friday, May 5

Eilen Jewell @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35) Singer/songwriter Eilen Jewell is a bit hard to categorize. She’s got a sweet voice, with smoky undertones, and an instinctive way with phrasing, which she uses well, whether celebrating the music of Loretta Lynn, rocking out with Shakin’ All Over, or putting a rockabilly twist to some of her own reflective originals.

Suicide Commandos Listening Party @ the Turf Club’s Clown Lounge, Saint Paul. 7pm (No Cover) Back in 1975 a trio of lads decided they didn’t want to play in a cover band, which was what most of the area’s clubs were hiring. Chris Osgood, Dave Ahl, and Steve Almaas were itching with the raw energy of youth, and wanted to play short, loud, original songs. The old Blitz Bar was willing to hire them, and after that, things changed in the Twin Cities music scene. The Suicide Commandos, as the trio named themselves, laid the foundation for groups like the Suburbs, The Replacements, Husker Du, and other groups. Well, it’s forty-two years later. They had long broken up, developed other music and performing careers, and then started reuniting on a sporadic basis over the last couple of decades. Importantly, they recently recorded their second studio album, Time Bomb. The guys will be hosting this listening party, and selling and signing copies of the album. In addition, Cyn Collins will be selling and signing her new book, entitled Complicated Fun, named after a Commandos song. It’s an oral history of Minneapolis punk and indie rock from 1974 – 1984.

Erik Brandt and the Urban Hillbilly Quartet @ The Underground Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 7pm – 9pm (Free) Twenty-two years after forming, the Urban Hillbilly Quartet still delivers original Americana and roots rock inspired by folks like David Grisman, Bruce Cockburn, the Jayhawks and The Grateful Dead. The core of the band is Erik Brandt, guitar, accordion, piano, lead vocals; Jeremy Szopinski, electric guitar; Dave Strahan, electric guitar, banjo, & vocals; Mike Schultz, bass; and Jim Orvis, drums.

Saturday, May 6

Saturday Salon @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 3pm ($20) This weeks program of chamber music in a cabaret setting is entitled Lonely Hearts: Music Made in Minnesota. It features two Saint Olaf grads who are active in the Twin Cities choral scene, but who also perform solo. Baritone Harrison Hintzsche and soprano Anna Christofaro will be joined by Matt Harikian on piano to perform acerbic, touching, and sometimes lustful songs by Libby Larsen, David Evans, among others. Small plates and bar service are available during the show, with full dinner available at 4:30pm, for those of us who may not want to go home and cook.

Fourth Annual Minnesota Salsa Fiesta @ Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20 Advance, $25 Door) It will be an explosion of hip-shaking Latin rhythms as Charanga Tropical hosts guests from throughout the Twin Cities Latin Music scene. Charanga Tropical will play, of course, along with Cuban-style percussion ensemble Rumba del Norte. Then it will be La Gran Charanga, and 18-piece all star group featuring 6 horns, 5 violins, 4 singers, and a full Latin rhythm section. When doors open at 7pm DJ Prieto from Chicago will spin salsa hits mixed with rare videos. A salsa lesson from Cuban-born instructor Rene Thompson will follow, to help folks dance to the pulsating rhythms produced by the bands.

Denny Laine @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $40, $45) Laine was an original member of the Moody Blues, and sang lead on their first hit, Go Now back in 1964. He left the Moody Blues to have his own band, joined Ginger Baker’s Air Force for a bit, and then, with Paul and Linda McCartney, was a founder of Wings, which had 24 hits on the charts in the 70s and received a Grammy for Band on the Run. He co-wrote Mull of McIntyre with Paul and it subsequently became the biggest selling hit of all time in the UK. Tonight he’ll play Band on the Run in its entirety, as well as some other tunes, I presume.

Sunday, May 7

Mayday Festival @ Powderhorn Park, Minneapolis. Noon – 7pm (Free) If you want to see a friend you haven’t seen in a while, they will probably be at the community celebration which is taking place for the 43rd year in a row. The day begins with a parade that travels south on Bloomington Avenue from 25th street and turns to Powderhorn Park on 34th Street. The parade features various community groups as well as giant puppets from Heart of the Beast, all marching to the 2017 MayDay theme: Imagine, Resist, Heal.  The Tree of Life Ceremony occurs at 3pm, when the Sun Flotilla paddles the Sun across the park’s lake. There will be music and dancing throughout the day, with entertainment ranging from Morris Dancers and a Women’s Drum Circle, to Savage Aural Hotbed, Prairie Fire Lady Choir and Machinery Hill. Food and merchandise will be available from a plethora of vendors.  Here’s a short clip of what you might see in the parade.

Tuesday, May 9

The Blasters @ The Turf Club, Saint Paul. 7pm ($20 Advance, $25 Door) Back in 1978, as the Punk movement was gaining steam around the country, a group of guys in Los Angeles named themselves the Blasters and combined that energy with rhythm and blues, early rock n’ roll, and rockabilly in an album called American Music. Funding members Phil Alvin, vocals, guitar; John Bass, bass; and Bill Bateman drums, along with guitarist Keith Wyatt, are still rocking audiences into gleeful pools of sweat.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues (and some roots) events, see the MN Blues Society calendar. For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar.


%d bloggers like this: